An Introduction to Chip-Firing

Divisors and Sandpiles provides an introduction to the combinatorial theory of chip-firing on finite graphs. Part 1 motivates the study of the discrete Laplacian by introducing the dollar game. The resulting theory of divisors on graphs runs in close parallel to the geometric theory of divisors on Riemann surfaces, and Part 1 culminates in a full exposition of the graph-theoretic Riemann-Roch theorem due to M. Baker and S. Norine. The text leverages the reader's understanding of the discrete story to provide a brief overview of the classical theory of Riemann surfaces.

Part 2 focuses on sandpiles, which are toy models of physical systems with dynamics controlled by the discrete Laplacian of the underlying graph. The text provides a careful introduction to the sandpile group and the abelian sandpile model, leading ultimately to L. Levine's threshold density theorem for the fixed-energy sandpile Markov chain. In a precise sense, the theory of sandpiles is dual to the theory of divisors, and there are many beautiful connections between the first two parts of the book.

Part 3 addresses various topics connecting the theory of chip-firing to other areas of mathematics, including the matrix-tree theorem, harmonic morphisms, parking functions, M-matrices, matroids, the Tutte polynomial, and simplicial homology.

The text is suitable for advanced undergraduates and beginning graduate students.

- An initial game
- Formal definitions
- The Picard and Jacobian groups
- Notes
- Problems

- The discrete Laplacian
- Configurations and the reduced Laplacian
- Complete linear systems and convex polytopes
- Structure of the Picard group
- Notes
- Problems

- Greed
- q-reduced divisors
- Superstable configurations
- Dhar's algorithm and efficient implementation
- The Abel-Jacobi map
- Notes
- Problems

- Orientations and maximal unwinnables
- Dhar's algorithm revisited
- Notes
- Problems

- The rank function
- Riemann-Roch for graphs
- The analogy with Riemann surfaces
- Alive divisors and stability
- Notes
- Problems

- A first example
- Directed graphs
- Sandpile graphs
- The reduced Laplacian
- Recurrent sandpiles
- Images of sandpiles on grid graphs
- Notes
- Problems

- Burning sandpiles
- Existence and uniqueness
- Superstables and recurrents
- Forbidden configurations
- Dhar's burning algorithm for recurrents
- Notes
- Problems

- Markov Chains
- The fixed-energy sandpile
- The threshold density theorem
- Notes
- Problems

- The matrix-tree theorem
- Consequences of the matrix-tree theorem
- Tree bijections
- Notes
- Problems

- Morphisms between graphs
- Branched coverings of Riemann surfaces
- Household-solutions to the dollar game
- Notes
- Problems

- Parking functions
- Computing ranks on complete graphs
- Notes
- Problems

- Changing the sink
- Minimal number of generators for \(\mathcal{S}(G)\)
- \(M\)-matrices
- Self-organized criticality
- Notes
- Problems

- Cycles, cuts, and the sandpile group
- Planar duality
- Notes
- Problems

- Matroids
- The Tutte polynomial
- 2-isomorphisms
- Merino's Theorem
- Tutte polynomials of complete graphs
- The \(h\)-vector conjecture
- Notes
- Problems

- Simplicial homology
- Higher-dimensional critical groups
- Simplicial spanning trees
- Firing rules for faces
- Notes
- Problems

- Undirected multigraphs
- Directed multigraphs

- Monoids, groups, rings, fields
- Modules

Bibliography

Index